Tuesday, 5 April 2011

A Point Of Design: John Makepeace

Imagery throughout courtesy of Watershed PR
An exhibition that has been high on my agenda of things to go and see this spring is the eagerly anticipated John Makepeace’s Enriching the Language of Furniture, currently showing at Somerset House; where an array of 25 privately and publicly collected works will be displayed together for the first time.
Celebrating Makepeace's half century at the forefront of British design alongside his international renown for revolutionising the way we view furniture –  encouraging us to see and eventually appreciate it as a form of contemporary art. Enriching the Language of Furniture showcases the famous ‘Mitre’ chair created in celebration of HM the Queen and Prince Philip’s Silver Wedding Anniversary and ‘Ripple’; a chest carved with wave forms penetrating the surface of the oak, from a tree planted in 1740 and harvested in 1980.
Respectfully known as the father of British furniture design, Makepeace's design aesthetic and unique manufacturing processes represent a marriage of classic and modern, embodying workmanship of the highest standard whilst striving for and championing sustainability.
Taking his Inspiration for cutting-edge furniture design from Danish pioneers working at the time of his emergence in the ‘50s, a young Makepeace achieved national acclaim by creating a series of retail products for Heals and the Centenary Dining Room for Liberty’s. By the '70s Makepeace had become a founding member if the Crafts Council and went on to become somewhat of a household name for setting up the now infamous Parnham College.
Better known in his formative years for addressing some of forestry’s most pressing economic concerns, Makepeace explored the environmental potential, bringing together foresters, chemists, material scientists, structural engineers and designers to research and develop sustainable new technologies and building systems.
Most recently, Makepeace became an OBE in 1988 for services to furniture design, received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Furniture Society (of America) in 2002 and was recently nominated for the Prince Philip Designers Prize 2010 where he received a Special Commendation.

Makepeace says: “In a world where so much attention is given to the short-term and superficial, our relationship with craftsmanship is more important than ever. Beautifully made and designed pieces that will endure and become heirlooms are a necessary antidote to the virtual reality that now permeates the culture.”

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